Meet the Team

Central Team

Executive Team

Rowena Hackwood

Chief Executive Officer

Rowena is now in her seventh year as the CEO of a large MAT, first at the David Ross Education Trust and now at Astrea Academy Trust. With a professional background as a management consultant, she previously held leadership roles in the private sector, higher education, local government, and charities, including running a £60m philanthropic regeneration project in the north-east (the Auckland Project).

Successes at Astrea include the improvement in primary schools’ Ofsted ratings from 63% to 95% of the Trust’s schools being deemed Good, and Phonics hitting national average in 2023 for the first time. Rowena will be speaking about her recent MAT Summary Evaluation experience, in which Astrea was described as at a Trust that had moved from a ‘model of autonomy to one of collaboration and a rigorous drive towards excellence’.

Rowena is a passionate advocate of building coherence, collaboration and capacity within a sector that can sometimes tend towards competition; she is a mentor to a number of CEOs, provides support and advice to a range of sector groups, and is Vice Chair of the Queen St Group, with a particular interest in supporting the development of the next tranche of female MAT CEOs.

James Wright

Chief Finance Officer

James joined the Astrea team in July 2019.

Prior to joining us James ran his own consultancy Academy Trust Finance, through which he worked with clients including Future Academies and University Schools Trust.

James is a CIMA qualified Finance Director with experience across Education, Charity, Professional Services (Booz & co), and Consumer Retail (Nuffield Health and Gyms). His prior Education sector roles have included International Baccalaureate, UCAS, Education Development Trust, BMet.

James is committed to ensuring that the very best can be achieved by schools, for the benefit of pupils, parents, teachers and the wider communities which are impacted by the decisions made by MATs.

Tomas Thurogood-Hyde

Assistant CEO & Company Secretary

Tomas is Astrea’s lead on governance and strategy assurance and is responsible for ensuring high quality Trust-wide and local governance as well as effective communication between the Board and its local committees. He is also responsible for overseeing the Trust’s policy framework, legal support, admissions, PR and fundraising.

An alumnus of the Open University, at which he read Law, Tomas has worked at the Prince’s Trust and Ark Schools before joining Astrea in March 2018.

Jo Leishman

Director of Primary Education

Jo has been part of Astrea since its inception in 2016, when she was Principal at Highgate Primary Academy. She is an experienced educationalist, who has led across many schools, developing effective leadership teams. The drive for brilliant and inclusive education for all children is at the heart of all she does. Jo joined the Central Team as a Regional Director in September 2019 and is currently our Director of Primary Education.

Richard Tutt

Director of Secondary Education

Richard is a very experienced system leader, joining from United Learning, where he is currently a Regional Director with responsibility for ten secondary academies and the national strategic lead for Teaching and Learning and SEND. Richard was designated as a National Leader of Education (NLE) in 2017. Previously, he was an Executive Principal in United Learning, overseeing five secondary academies. As a Principal, Richard led Magna Academy since it opened in 2013 to achieve two consecutive OFSTED Outstanding judgments (2015 and 2018), accreditation as a National Teaching School and National Support School and a Progress 8 score of 1.15 (24th nationally) in 2018 and 1.16 (18th nationally) in 2019

Jonathan Timmis

Chief Operating Officer
Prior to joining Astrea, Jonathan served in the British Army, enjoying a diverse career of service to a broad range of people across various backgrounds, cultures and nationalities.  He has devoted his efforts to nurturing talent through training and education to help realise potential and aspirations.   This has included many tours in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Germany and Belgium with NATO, plus the UK Government’s Cabinet Office.  He has led operational services at brigade, division and corps levels.
Dedicated to Astrea’s vision and strategy towards a brilliant education for all, Jonathan is a passionate advocate of inclusive leadership, building teams to excel in support of the Trust.